The experiences of people who sell or exchange sex and their interaction with support services: lived experience engagement

This research informs our commitment to develop a model for Scotland which effectively tackles and challenges men’s demand for prostitution. It seeks to map service provision in Scotland, and gathers lived experience input on service experiences.

6 Lived Experience: Future Service Design

For the final thematic area, participants were asked about support which may have helped them in the past, and what would be helpful for them currently. Their responses to these formed the basis for this section which seeks to address Research Aim 3:

To gather views from those with lived and living experience on future service design.

Additional suggestions were drawn from participants' suggestions on what would facilitate ease of access to their current service, and past experiences. The data is summarised in Table 7.

Table 7: Collated participant recommendations for Future Service Design.

Future Service Recommendation

Key elements for consideration

Improved Knowledge/Understanding

Increased knowledge in mainstream services

Specialist mental health support

Specialist sexual health services

Appropriate and safe housing

Joined-up and Partnership Working

Cohesive support planning

Fast-tracked benefits

Shared awareness of risk

One stop shop/Hub set-up (for some)

Combination of practical and emotional support

Options for projects around social change etc. offered as an addition, not an alternative

Range of support services for people at different stages or with different experiences of selling or exchanging sex

Exiting Services

Support for those who have been trafficked

Services for people who do not wish to exit

Long Term Support

Including support for people many years after they have been involved

Flexibility around disengaging and re-engaging

Clear Advertising

Who is eligible for support e.g. men/women

e.g. Sugar Dating[8]

Explicitly state people who sell or exchange sex are welcome

Clear service offer

Clear referral routes

Improved Accessibility

Located on bus routes


Drop-in services

Open at evenings/night

Translation available quickly

Appropriate physical environment


Managed to avoid crowds

Being seen entering will not reveal involvement

Options to meet elsewhere

Female only spaces

Improved addictions services

Specialist alcohol support

Support off methadone

Option of longer-acting opioid replacement


Rehab – all female available

Safety net if unable to collect methadone

Nuanced understanding of the interplay between selling or exchanging sex and addiction

Improved public attitudes/understanding

To reduce judgement/stigma

Pre-emptive support offer

Safety planning including harm reduction

Information on realities/risk/alternatives

Education in schools - Discussion of social issues

  • - How to access support
  • - Healthy Relationships

Improved employment support


For people at different stages e.g. exited women


Building social networks

Education around trauma

Opportunities for continued engagement

Peer Facilitators

Platforming people visible in exit or recovery

Continued opportunity to influence service design



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